Mrs. Friess, JHCA head of school, addressed the school community at Monday's opening ceremony with a story illustrating the theological virtue of love. She used the familiar parable of the good Samaritan to explain the extent to which Jesus commands us to love our neighbor, retelling the story and then breaking down the reactions of the various characters and their cultural context.
“The parable’s setting lies in the treacherous terrain between Jerusalem and Jericho,” Mrs. Friess said. “There are robbers on that road who take advantage of travelers’ exposure, making it even more dangerous. We also don’t know anything about the man who was attacked by the robbers, and neither do the passersby.”
By prevailing social standards of the time, the priest and the Levite have put the half-dead stranger into the category of a “neighbor” who they believe they don’t need to love because they don’t know him. Additionally, society in ancient Israel defined a Samaritan as an outcast, no neighbor, and no model for how to respond to a man who seems to be dead. This would have made it shocking to Jesus’ listeners to hear that the Samaritan – the one who would be quickly rejected by Jewish society at the time because of his identity – was the one who acted out of love toward the man in need.
Mrs. Friess concluded, “Jesus’ radical message is that every human being is our neighbor, and we are given life when we take on others’ suffering and give of ourselves. Every life, and our lives, depend on giving value to every person as our neighbor and responding with love.”
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